by: Thomas D. Mooney
This past week, we caught up with Dallas singer-songwriters, John Pedigo and Taylor Young–or simply, The O’s–to talk about their upcoming album, their recording process, and this past year’s Steamboat Music Fest. The Americana band will be performing at The Blue Light tonight (Thursday, February 26).
Watch/Listen to the official music video for “Outlaw” from their last album, Thunderdog, below.
New Slang: When you guys played The Blue Light last, it was on the way back from playing up in Steamboat. That seems to always give certain bands–if not all the bands–who play there a boost going into the year.
John Pedigo: I don’t know, I think the word boost, it’s kind of a double-edged sword because you don’t sleep much and you’re pretty worn out by the time it’s over [laughs]. But yes, shows seem to be attended more.
Taylor Young: When we spoke with John Dickson, when he invited us to play, he told us we were about to get a lot of new fans nationwide. It has come true. Most everywhere we’ve played since then, somebody who was at Steamboat Music Fest comes up and says they were introduced to our music then and now they’re a fan. It was really great for us. We like to have a really great time, but even that whipped our ass [laughs].
NS: [Laughs] It’s interesting. You guys have played here in Lubbock a few times in the last couple years. But this past show with you guys had with American Aquarium, there was a bunch of people there who were saying the same thing. They became fans after Steamboat. I’m sitting here thinking, well why haven’t you come to their shows before? Maybe we’re (New Slang) doing a bad job.
TY: [Laughs] Yeah. What I found really great about that was between Steamboat and then, they’d already learned lyrics and were singing along.
JP: That worked out in our favor.
NS: That American Aquarium show, that was a hell of a show. The crowd was massive. They were engaged throughout both performances. And those guys, they’re just a machine. Doing all these shows. Their record Wolves came out and is great. What’re your thoughts on the album? I’m sure you guys have given it a listen.
JP: I think they’re killing it. The way I see it, anyone who’s doing well in this scene, it’s good for all of us. I’m really happy for them. They’re probably the nicest dudes of any band we play with.
TY: Yeah. They’re great. It’s been the same group of guys for a long time. They’re the heaviest touring band in the states. Us, we’re a band who’s trying to constantly tour and play as well, so they definitely get a lot of respect from us. They’re hard workers. And on top of that, their album is awesome. That “Losing Side of Twenty-Five,” that’s a great song–it’s filled with great songs. We’re happy they’re our buddies.
NS: Yeah. This record, I think this time next year, we’ll be saying they won 2015. I think they have a great chance of being that breakout 2015 band.
JP: I don’t know man. I mean, we’ll be recording a record and getting it out this year so…
NS: [Laughs] Well that’s good. I’ve got this new thing New Slang is doing on a month-to-month basis about this “Championship Belt” holder in Americana and country stuff. So basically, you guys are going to need to come in and wrestle it away from last year’s champion, Sturgill Simpson.
JP: Yeah dude! I love this idea.
NS: But on this record of yours, what’s the plan so far? Where are you guys wanting to record this? And when? What’re the details.
JP: Well, after we win this wrestling belt that you’re talking about, we’re going to begin recording in April/May in Dripping Springs. The guy who did our last record, Chris Smith–Frenchie–he’s going to do it with another guy, Sean Rolie. We’re teaming up with them in Dripping Springs. Then it’ll be out this fall. I say we’re not then going to be touring, but continue touring. But this time, with a championship wrestling belt, which is nice [laughs].
NS: [Laughs] You know, when I first got this idea, I thought about throwing out a Kickstarter or some kind of fund page to purchase an actual belt to pass along to these bands. I think it’d be awesome. But anyways, Dripping Springs. Last time for Thunderdog, you guys were over at Sonic Ranch near El Paso. What made you guys decide on a place in Dripping Springs this time around?
TY: We were in interested in working with Frenchie again. We’d never used the same producer and engineer on consecutive albums before, but that was kind of the first step. We wanted him again. Then the three of us were talking about where and it turns out the engineer, Sean, he and his father have a recording studio in Dripping Springs. His father, Gregg Rolie was in a band called Journey (Yes, that Journey). We really love to location record. We like to go somewhere and live and record there. Me, John, and whoever else is working on the album, and just hang out for two weeks and knock it out.
NS: Yeah. I remember talking about the last record and you guys really loving the whole process of recording a record out somewhere where you don’t have to worry about anything else but record. I think you can get that sense with some records. It makes a better story and vibe.
TY: That and the food.
JP: Yeah, we’re pretty big into eating too.
TY: We’ll throw in a dance party while doing it too [laughs].
JP: Yeah. I mean, you wake up and eat a burrito and by the end of the night, you may have had a few beers. Maybe some Jameson. Then Frenchie likes to put on some dance party music. And by dance party, I’m talking AC/DC or–
TY: The new Guns N’ Roses.
JP: Yeah, new Guns N’ Roses, which I guess is a relative term since it took them about 40 years to make the last album. But it’s actually pretty good to listen to when you’re a little bit sideways and you’ve been concentrating on one phrase of music for six straight hours. It’s a good way to lighten the load as Taylor might sing on our last album.
NS: Yeah. I can see how listening to Chinese Democracy can also help out in the process by way of thinking, “Well, we may over think and over analyze certain parts of the record we’re making, but we’ll never overdo it when compared to Chinese Democracy. We have that going a least.”
JP: That conversation certainly has happened more than once [laughs]. That album is so insane and schizophrenic. Each music style is represented over the last 25 years. I don’t know–it’s like a collage and a time capsule if you will.
NS: [Laughs]. Back to this new album, how many songs do you guys have that could potentially make this album? You guys started dwindling the list down yet?
JP: About a hundred now [laughs].
TY: A whole lot. We’re about at that point where we’ll start throwing songs back and forth and kind of doing our own power rankings. I don’t know how we’re going to go on this album quite yet. Ever since we signed on to our new booking agency, we’re kind of playing for different crowds. It’s going to be interesting to see what ends up making it. I couldn’t possibly tell you.
JP: I think I know like four of them, but yeah, it’s a tough question to answer right now. But you know, as of now, we’re calling the album Honeycomb cuz all dem beez gon’ be flocking to the honeycomb.
TY: [Laughs]. We’ve actually never said that out loud. That’s an exclusive fact. What do you think?
NS: [Laughs]. Love it. Though, I do think it works best if it’s Honeycomb: Cuz All Dem Beez Gon’ Be Flocking to the Honeycomb.
JP: Yeah. Course it can’t be grammatically correct either.
NS: Yeah. Of course. Going back to that last show here, you guys did that Townes Van Zandt cover, “Waiting ‘Round to Die.” I found the cover to be not only good, but really an interesting interpretation. That song, it’s so dark and depressing. It’s always done in that way, but with you guys, it still had some of those elements, but it wasn’t nearly as sad bastardy. When did you guys develop your version?
JP: Well it started out because of this article from the LA paper. They were putting together a Townes Van Zandt deal and were asked to be involved. It’s such a good tune. I think once you put a banjo to something, it generally lightens the mood.
TY: Yeah. We also moved the key up to a D Minor and sped it up a little bit. It seemed to work immediately. We kind of just went with John starting it and going back and forth on the verses.
JP: It’s really like a lot of our music. People look at us and see a folk band since it’s acoustic guitar and banjo. But really, we’re playing pop songs. You put a banjo to it though and it immediately changes it.
TY: No, we’re a country red dirt band, remember? Bluegrass, man.
JP: Oh yeah, I forgot [laughs].
NS: You know, I didn’t think about the exchanging verses–going back and forth between the two of you–that really is a lightener too.